Tensions soar as rival protests take place near Iraqi parliament

by | Aug 1, 2022 | World

Rival demonstrations by competing Shia Muslim groups affiliated with heavily armed militias brought thousands to the streets of Iraq’s capital as tension soars over the failure to form a government after months of deadlock.Iraqi security forces were on high alert in Baghdad on Monday. Iraq’s longest post-election deadlock, at nearly 10 months with no government after an October vote, has led to unrest including protests by supporters of the powerful cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who are occupying parliament in an open-ended sit-in.
Al-Sadr’s opponents include a grouping of parties and militias mostly aligned with Iran, known as the Shia Coordination Framework, that called for counter-protests near parliament, saying they were aimed at protecting state institutions against the civil unrest of the Sadrists.
The Iraqi parliament sits in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone – also home to government buildings and embassies – which al-Sadr supporters stormed with ease twice last week as security forces stood back.
The Coordination Framework’s demonstrations took place near the Green Zone’s entrance.
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Al Jazeera’s Dorsa Jabbari, reporting from inside the Green Zone, said pro-al-Sadr demonstrators are “very much keeping their momentum”.
“They say they’re here to stay as long as they’re needed,” Jabbari said. “They say they want a complete overhaul of the system, a new constitution.”
Protesters chanted, “No one can beat the Sayed” – referring to Muqtada al-Sadr.
All Iraqis should support these demonstrators and come out in Baghdad, al-Sadr said on Twitter on Sunday.
“But the latest we hear from his media office is people should stay in their provinces until further …

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